LAFAYETTE — The City-Parish Council is scheduled to vote Tuesday on changes to Lafayette’s traffic camera enforcement program that include tougher measures to collect from drivers who are not paying up.
Since the automated enforcement program began in 2007, the dollar amount of violations past due by four months or more has mushroomed to about $6.4 million, according to a presentation from City-Parish Traffic and Transportation Department earlier this year.
That figure was among the many discussion points in recent council debates on whether to scrap the traffic cameras.
The council voted 6-3 in May to keep the cameras up, but several council members and City-Parish President Joey Durel spoke of the need for a more streamlined system to collect unpaid fines.
The proposal before the council on Tuesday sets up a process where delinquent fines of $125 or more can be referred to a collection agency after being past due for 120 days.
If the collection agency has not secured payment after another 120 days, then the city-parish attorney is directed to seek payment and late fees in court, according to the proposal.
City-parish government has always had the option to pursue unpaid traffic camera fines in court, but there has not been a clearly defined process for determining when court action is appropriate.
The proposal for taking harder line against those who don’t pay has drawn questions.
Councilman Andy Naquin, who voted in May to end the program, said he wonders whether city-parish government can enforce payment in court when the traffic camera citations are sent through the mail. He said an issue could be raised as to whether a citation has even reached an offender.
“It’s going to be tough to bring this to court,” Naquin said. “The best way to enforce it is to have boots on the ground with police officers writing the tickets.”
Other proposed changes to the traffic camera program to be considered on Tuesday include transferring oversight of the program from the Traffic and Transportation Department to the Police Department and removing a provision that allowed “booting” of vehicles owned by drivers with past-due fines.
The elimination of the “booting” provision is a formality because city-parish government’s policy has been not to use the immobilization device on drivers with traffic camera fines, said City-Parish Director of Traffic and Transportation Tony Tramel.
“No one has been booted,” he said.
There are 12 intersections in the city that are monitored by traffic cameras.
The cameras take pictures of the driver and license plate when a vehicle speeds through an intersection or runs a red light. The alleged violator is mailed a citation.
Editor’s note: This story was changed on July 14 to remove a reference to the city considering 17 additional traffic camera locations.